Deontay Wilder-Chris Arreola: Post-Fight Report Card

by Cliff Rold

Can a fighter be in with someone highly unlikely to defeat them and still impress? That question was on display last Saturday night as WBC titlist Deontay Wilder went through Chris Arreola for his fourth successful defense.

There was plenty to like about Wilder’s performance, his best since winning his belt from Bermane Stiverne last year. The problems were two: it’s hard to say how much of a gauge Arreola is at this point; and, we might not have anything from Wilder to measure it against for the rest of 2016.

For now…      

Let’s go the report card.


Pre-Fight: Speed – Wilder A-; Arreola C+/Post: A-; C
Pre-Fight: Power – Wilder A; Arreola B+/Post: A; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Wilder B; Arreola C/Post: B; C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Wilder B; Arreola B/Post: B+; B

There were flashes in the ring last weekend that reminded of why there once was enthusiasm for Arreola. His come forward style, his toughness, his willingness, were all there. While he lost every round, there were moments when Arreola’s combination punching (always his best attribute), got him inside and found a home for some big shots.

It’s too bad there wasn’t enough of Arreola left to make it count. Arreola always carried a pretty good punch. On Saturday, it looked like the snap was gone from early on. Flush left hooks had little body behind them. Body shots drew dance moves as Wilder played to the crowd.

In the 1990s, heavyweight fans saw the promise of Riddick Bowe eroded by a battle with the bulge and too many punches taken. Arreola was never in Bowe’s league. His lack of consistent preparation, and heavy accumulation of punishment, defeated him years ago. Saturday was the best he’s looked since his second loss to Stiverne.

wilder-arreola-fight (14)_1

That didn’t mean it wasn’t still far from the young fighter who obliterated Chazz Witherspoon and engaged in a fan friendly battle with Tomasz Adamek.

Wilder impressed anyways, particularly before a fourth round when it appears he broke his hand. Wilder planted his feet and used his jab as well as he ever has. The stick was fast, hard, accurate, and came from multiple angles. That he worked through injuries, later to include a diagnosis of a biceps injury to go with the hand, and still closed the show, was commendable.

Wilder, even now, remains a work in progress. To deny progress has been made would be a lie. Look at his form when he turned pro, his form just a couple of years ago, and then where he is now. Wilder had to have worked his ass off to get this far.

Given the arc of his career, there is every reason to think he has yet to hit his best form. We may still be a year or two away from the very best we will see from him. That’s what makes this injury setback disappointing. He needs to continue accumulating rounds. He won’t get that chance.

As a positive, it could allow time for a resolution in the Alexander Povetkin matter. If Povetkin is ultimately cleared of wrongdoing regarding a positive meldonium test, Wilder’s WBC mandatory could still loom. Wilder’s progress would be tested there.

It could also be tested in a shot at World Champion Tyson Fury or IBF titlist Anthony Joshua. Wilder has a combination of speed, power, personality, and conditioning missing from the American heavyweight scene for most of a decade.

Against any of the men named, it will mean must-see viewing.

We still don’t know how good Wilder is. We just know he’s better than he was and still improving. We won’t know what steps he’s made after Arreola until wounds are healed.       

 Report Card and Staff Picks 2016: 28-10

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by TikeMyson on 07-22-2016

An overweight, cruiserweight against a prime heavyweight. Nevermind looking bad on paper, how did this fight even get on paper. Riiiight?!?

Comment by r1onnie2 on 07-21-2016

[QUOTE=Strive 4 Truth;16884374]Like what? How be punches like mad man when he had Arreola hurt. No wonder his all tore up, those punches he threw were below amateur level. He fought a guy he was supposed to look spectacular against…

Comment by Redd Foxx on 07-20-2016

"Wilder, even now, remains a work in progress. To deny progress has been made would be a lie. Look at his form when he turned pro, his form just a couple of years ago, and then where he is now.…

Comment by juggernaut666 on 07-20-2016

Arreola : D + Wilder : Pre broken Hand C / Post Broken Hand C +

Comment by Strive 4 Truth on 07-20-2016

[QUOTE=r1onnie2;16883509]I agree, I seen some good improvements in Wilder.[/QUOTE]Like what? How be punches like mad man when he had Arreola hurt. No wonder his all tore up, those punches he threw were below amateur level. He fought a guy he…

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